Team Sweden upset the odds with a surprise underdog victory over hosts, Great Britain, in their opening fixture of the IFAF Women’s Euros 2019.
Game Summary, with full Match Report & Statistics to follow:
An early score on a blown coverage by Wide Receiver and all-round weapon, Karin Ullen – breaking to the outside and outpacing the entire GB defence for an 88yd score – gave the visitors a surprise early lead.
The Lions looked to bite back, and while they were able to regularly move the stakes, driving into the Swedish red zone on a number of occasions, they had to wait until the second half before standout playmaker Ruth ‘The Ruth is on Fire’ Matta bust a massive rush right through the heart of the Swedish defence for a 74yd rushing touchdown.
With both teams having missed the XPs, a tense final two quarters ensued as the very real possibility of a 6-6 tied game loomed, potentially disadvantaging both teams in the running for a European title.
Hungry to capitalise on what was perhaps a much tighter scoreline than many expected, Head Coach Christian Forsman and Quarterback Linda Johansson started reaching deep into the playbook and pulling out some crafty plays that allowed them to consistently pick up chunks of yardage, each time it seemed like the GB Defence had forced the Swedes to punt away. Karin Ullen converted a 4 & long fake punt for a first down late in the third, Johansson took a rep at wideout as Sweden tried to confound the GB defence, and a reverse that looked like it had been blown up in the backfield very nearly went all the way for a score as Sweden continued to threaten the host’s endzone.
Into the fourth and a long Field Goal attempt from Ullen came down short and wide, but when the Swedes drove deep into the British redzone once again, Ullen wasn’t to be denied – splitting the uprights from 29yds out to given Sweden a narrow lead.
Knowing they were short on time, GB put the game in the hands of their most reliable playmaker – Matta playing a crucial role both as a ball carrier, but also an incredible actor as the Lions offence put together an impressive march down the length of the pitch during the closing minutes of the game.
Not to be outdone with the inventive plays, jim Messenger showed some of the wrinkles he was perhaps hoping to keep in his hand until later in the tournament. With Matta havng carried the offence most of the way down the field, GB found themselves stuck in a 4th & 2, with probably little chance of getting the ball back if they came up short.
Receiving the snap, Quarterback Sydney Green appeared to hand the ball off to Matta, who was quickly swallowed up by the swarming Swedish defenders… only to have pulled the ball back and instead lofted a pass over the top to GB Lions Team Captain Phoebe Schecter. Having been an absolute beast on defence all day long, just a touch more air under the football and Schecter would have had nothing between her and the endzone!
Even so, the Lions had easily converted deep into the Swedish redzone, and with the crowd at their back seemed to have all the momentum necessary to snatch back the lead.
Matta’s acting skills played a key role once more, as a low snap saw Green scoop the ball off the turf, and while the Swedish D bit on the end-around they clearly thought was coming, Green instead took the carry herself – tripped at the 2yd line, but earning a fresh set of downs within sniffing distance of the endzone, and the victory.
However, the Swedes clearly had no plans of making things easy for their hosts, as they brought the house on the following play and swallowed Matta up in the backfield, pushing GB back to the 5 yd line and forcing them to burn their third and final timeout.
Setting up for a second down, Sweden brought the house once again and as a blitz came almost clean through up the middle, Green was forced to roll out of the pocket towards the right-hand sideline, blind to the completely uncovered Schecter stood in the back left of the end zone. Taking a shot, Green tried to split the defenders and find one of her receivers in the endzone, only for Mathilda Svensson Duric to pluck the pass out of the air, crushing GB’s aspirations of stealing back the victory in the closing moments.
With a mere 10 seconds on the clock, the underdog visitors were able to kneel out the game to the ecstatic roars of their small but vocal band of supporters.
Den känslan upplever vi gärna igen.
Posted by Svenska Amerikansk Fotbollförbundet on Tuesday, August 13, 2019
A hard-fought-for and well-earned victory for a Swedish outfit that had been beaten by GB in each of the previous three meetings, and are suddenly looking like they could be serious contenders for a first European title should they find a way to cause an upset once again when they take on Finland on Wednesday afternoon!
#WECLeeds2019 | Team Sweden open their account with an upset victory – impressive start for the blue and gold!
Posted by Double Coverage – Britball. We've got it covered. on Monday, August 12, 2019
📷Kev Cleaver, What a Picture Photography.